#CookForSyria - Female Innovator of the Year
Company: #CookForSyria; London, United Kingdom
Company Description: #CookForSyria is an international fundraising initiative curated by Clerkenwell Boy and Serena Guen to preserve and celebrate Syrian culture amidst one the largest humanitarian crisis since World War II. The campaign officially launched in London in October 2016, followed by Australia March 2017 and the USA in June. There are hopes that the initiative will then be continued globally.
Nomination Category: Individual Awards Categories
Nomination Sub Category: Female Innovator of the Year – Government or Non-Profit –10 or Less Employees
Nomination Title: #CookForSyria
Describe for the judges the activities and accomplishments of the nominated woman since the beginning of July last year (up to 525 words):
2016 saw Serena co-found the global campaign #CookForSyria which raises money and cultural awareness for Syrian refugees. Bringing together the likes of Jamie Oliver and Yotam Ottolenghi, alongside award-winning food-writers and home-cooks, the campaign had a global reach of more than 170 million people. Over ten thousand specials were served, raising more than £200,000 for Unicef's Syria Relief Fund. The success of #CookForSyria culminated in Serena publishing a cookbook which climbed to #2 in Amazon's ranking of International Cooking.
#CookForSyria officially launched with a dinner in London, hosted by headline UK chefs, on 31 October 2016. This kicked off a month of just under 100 participating restaurants selling a Syrian-inspired dish on their menu, the proceeds of which went to UNICEF. Throughout the month of November, home-cooks were encouraged to host supper-clubs, auctions and bake-sales, endorsed by our celebrity supporters, which had an overwhelming response.
Serena began the campaign with instagrammer, Clerkenwell boy, in defiance of an increasingly de-humanized humanitarian crisis, where more than 8 million children's lives are in danger, yet governments are pre-occupied with the economics. 50% of all Syrian refugees are children and boys as young as 7 are being recruited to fight. The risk of losing a generation grows with everyday that the situation deteriorates. A risk that #CookForSyria seeks to eliminate, through the rich cultural heritage inherent in Syrian cuisine. The initiative harnesses the power of cooking to bring people together, whilst reminding us of the ongoing conflict in Syria.
In March, #CookForSyria moved beyond the borders of its home country, first-stop Australia. Soon to be followed by the US in June, Paris in November, and much more in the pipeline. Indeed, Serena has harvested interest from Brazil to Hong Kong, Germany to Dubai, which adds hope that the campaign will continue to spread globally.
During the campaign, a successful Syrian restaurant entrepreneur, Imad Alarnab, approached #CookForSyria. Forced to flee from war, he abandoned his cafes and restaurants. Now in the UK with his family, Imad fostered a dream of running his own restaurant again. Serena, through #CookForSyria helped to connect him with a venue and the resources he needed, to celebrate making ideas happen against the odds. Thus, in February 2017, Imad Alarnab launched a pop-up restaurant – Imad’s Syrian Kitchen. Proceeds were split between #CookForSyria, a fund to begin his own restaurant and rehousing six families in Syria, who had lost their homes.
Later this June, #CookForSyria are partnering with the Evening Standard as part of London Food Month. For one week, from June 25th, a different famous chef every night will be cooking alongside Imad hosting a series of pop-up dinners. June also will see Jude’s launch a Syrian-inspired icecream, in collaboration with #CookForSyria. Honey and toasted almond flavor, the icecream evokes the palette of Syria, and will be available to purchase on Ocado online, nationwide.
Serena marries commercial success with a desire to do good. Founding the #CookForSyria campaign for UNICEF whilst juggling her worldwide fashion and travel publication, SUITCASE, which also offers a platform for the sharing and understanding of cultures, Guen leads the way in a new mindful approach to becoming an entrepreneur.
Provide a brief biography of the nominated woman (up to 125 words):
Named the “Mark Zuckerberg of publishing” by Bloomberg and one of Forbes' 30 under 30 in media for Europe, multi-national Serena founded SUITCASE Magazine remotely while in her third year at New York University. She was named one of 25 under 25 most influential Londoners by the Evening Standard and is often called upon for her expertise in travel by outlets such as CNBC. In 2014 she won a Woman of the Future Award for media and in 2016 was shortlisted for Young Travel Entrepreneur of the Year Award. Alongside her work at SUITCASE, she is also a founding member of Unicef’s NEXTGeneration London and co-founded the worldwide initiative #CookForSyria.